Tips and Tricks for Managing a Demanding Backup Environment

by Guest Author on January 26, 2017

in Articles, Guest Posts

tape_backupIt should come as no surprise that backup administration is not a walk in the park. In other words, individuals who are called to the task of administrator have a very tough job ahead of them everyday. As it stands now, it may very well be one of the most complex callings in the world of information technology. This is due to the stress of trying to make the best of failing hardware, and working tirelessly at protecting and updating critical data. But hold on…that’s not all! Backup administrators have the weighty task of trying to win the hearts of those pesky auditors, as well as working hard to keep the whole environment in ship-shape condition. Talk about a big job!

The reality is that it doesn’t stop there. This big job is getting more complex by the day due to the implementation of things such as virtual tape libraries, machines, acquisitions, and the need for increased and more detailed reporting. In fact, the job of a backup administrator is much more arduous than it was just 5 years ago. But think about it…how much has technology changed in the last 5 years? If you answered “a lot,” you are right! All of that change has lead to more demands and expectations put upon the individuals working in backup.

Though many people would not be up for the demands expected in the field of backup administration, most backup administrators are more than ready to deal with the difficulties that are presented to them on a daily basis. The main issue that comes up for most people is the little amount of time they are given to do it all. No matter how good you are at handling challenges, there are still only 24 hours in day. Unfortunately, many administrators in the world of backup are not able to place the proper amount of attention on the environment AND do everything else that is required of them. If this last sentence describes what you are going through, fear not! There is good news on the horizon. Below, we will discuss some tips and tricks for handling a highly demanding backup sphere.

In approaching a difficult environment, you must first consider making daily backup statuses for each client. By doing this, you will save both the time and energy of everyone involved and the task of reporting on solutions will be simplified. Before you make these statuses, it’s important to determine the information to use as the foundation. Also, think about what your backup window is. For instance, a window that goes from 6:00AM to 6:00PM would not follow a normal calendar day. This must be taken into account when planning status information. Another thing to think about with respect to statuses is what to do in the event of a missed job. For example, if a job is missed because of a failed scheduler, administrators might overlook this fact and consider everything to be ok. However, this is a situation that ought to be considered a missed job. A good question backup administrators should ask themselves is how they might determine a success as opposed to a failure. As you can see, keeping yours eyes on the details is crucial in the backup environment so that important factors do not get overlooked.

Next, administrators ought to establish a plan with regards to reporting for the various units of business within their spheres. Chances are good that most backup administrators have more than enough when it comes to devices to manage, making it all the easier to lose sight of just how important each one is. There are times when machine names are little more than names on screen, and the chances of forgetting the important data involved on each device grows with each additional machine that is added to the fold. One way to avoid this is if backup administrators pair client names with the company configuration management databases (CMDB). When this occurs, a variety of other important data becomes easily accessible which in turn, makes the names on the screen that much more significant. Additionally, reporting can take place at the application or business unit level, and the data can then be shared with end-users. Practically speaking, the best technique to go about obtaining the information is to get your hands on a copy of the CMDB in a CSV file. By doing so, the data is laid out by column and placed into the proper category. By following the recommendation to plan accordingly with respect to reporting, the simple names on a screen can be connected to more important information.

Another crucial pointer regarding challenging backup environments is to focus on accurate storage reporting. As the old saying goes, knowledge is power, and it is certainly no different here. When those in backup administration understand how much storage is being used, users are better able to assess trends and future needs. The way administrators can access their usages is by getting a hold of the raw data, and then compressing and de-duping it. Do keep in mind however, that this raw data is time-sensitive. In other words, it must be analyzed immediately to verify current trends. Old data will not be helpful to users when it comes to understanding the storage needs of the moment.

Finally, in order for backup administrators to efficiently and effectively manage their backup environments, one of the most important things to keep in mind is that many of the tasks mentioned above can be made automated within a system. Isn’t that a relief to hear? In fact, as the demand increases, more and more options are coming to the scene regarding software that is capable of automation. These resources work to make your environment proactive instead of reactive. By utilizing these incredible tools, you will quickly find that your backup sphere is much easier to understand. The good news is, these tools have made managing difficult backup environments a breeze. Even though the job description is more complex than ever before, backup administrators have great tools at their fingertips to help them carry the heavy load.

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Ryan February 7, 2017 at 16:02

This is a very informative post! And I agree, focusing on accurate storage reporting is very critical in regards of challenging backup environments! Thanks for sharing!

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